Thoughts/Observations from my first experience in Ann Arbor

Submitted by Moleskyn on October 31st, 2011 at 10:36 AM

First off, I'd like to thank everyone who offered their advice last week - my wife and I had a memorable time in Ann Arbor and really enjoyed ourselves. Also, for anyone who hasn't been to Angelo's, it is terrific! We got there around 8:30 and waited 30 minutes for a table. The line was even longer when we left around 9:30. Fantastic food, though. Definitely worth the wait.

Anyway, just thought I'd share some of my thoughts/observations from my first gameday experience in Ann Arbor:

  • The per-game drumline performance was as good as advertised. They put on a great show - probably my favorite part of the day, aside from the game itself.
  • The stadium didn't feel huge from the inside. I was kind of surprised by that. I didn't really notice the hugeness until I noticed a pretty significant sound delay (specifically the band on the field when they were facing away from my section).
  • The scoreboards look awesome! But I got the sense that they are still kind of figuring them out - the pre-game announcements and what was displayed on the boards were off for the first minute or so. You could tell they had to rush some of the screens to catch up to what was being announced.
  • Since this was my first game in the Big House I don't have anything to compare to, but the crowd seemed really loud on most third downs/big plays. I can see why Hope would say that noise affected his team (still seems like a lame excuse, nonetheless).
  • I'm not trying to add anything to previous threads about this, but I was kind of surprised to see how long it took the student section to fill up. It seemed mostly full by kickoff and it was fun to see how involved they were in the game. I particularly thought it was funny when they started booing the old folks when they wouldn't keep the wave going. By that time, the game was definitely in hand. One other note about the student section: I was surprised by how many left when it started raining in the 4th quarter. Granted, there were only about 5 minutes left and the game was well in hand, but I guess I expected old people to leave when the rain started, not the students. Again, not trying to bash anybody, just my observation. FWIW, Lloyd Brady was there early and stayed until the end. He's a superfan! And my wife thought it was hilarious whenever I pointed him out on the video board.
  • I sat in section 23 (awesome seats, by the way!) and there were two really annoying old guys behind me. They kept saying things like "You gotta run the ball north and south. You can't win with these trick plays (of which, one man considered the throw-back screen a trick play because it "took so long to develop.")! Denard can't throw the ball to save his life! Look at the size of that Purdue offensive line; now THAT's an offensive line. Look at the size of their running backs. They can actually run through tackles." They were the kind of people who would be completely satisfied with a 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust type of offense, and they were driving me nuts!
  • Devin is definitely NOT an upgrade over Denard at this point. Not even close. His interception was terrible. I couldn't tell if he overthrew Hemingway (who was WIDE open) or if he was looking for Roundtree (who was double-covered) but it was a terrible throw. Not to mention his crazy scrambles all over the place. Denard also made a couple bad throws (one was intercepted, the other one should have been intercepted), but he seemed more comfortable in the offense. I think Devin definitely has a bright future, but I just don't think it's his time just yet.
  • The jetpack was sweet!
  • Kovacs really seems to have stepped up as a vocal leader on the defense. I noticed a handful of times when he was out with the defensive group during timeouts encouraging them and trying to pump them up. Hopefully his injury isn't too serious.
  • I thought the band sounded really good with the mics. I know that's been discussed here before, but I didn't notice any kind of sound delay.
  • I didn't think the amount of piped-in music was bad. Some of the song choices were, though. And some of the songs were really crackly at times. Not sure if that was due to the quality of the song file or just the sound crew still trying to fine-tune the speakers, but there were a few times when the music coming out just wasn't crisp or clear.

Overall though, both my wife and I had a great time. Definitely a memorable experience. She wants to come back again, so that can't be a bad thing!



October 31st, 2011 at 2:01 PM ^

My first experience was for the Michigan State game last year (second game was Notre Dame-11). Old guys kept complaining about the offense and how it needs to be North & South after every play. Michigan goes to kick a field goal at end of 2nd quater, which was blocked. One of the old man asks his friend, "what just happened??" The old man responds," interception." I just slapped my forehead. I said to myself, Richrod will not be here next year. Can't make this shit up. It Section 19, Row 52, this is regards to the old gentlemen one row above Seat 22.


October 31st, 2011 at 10:52 AM ^

Thanks for the thoughts. Glad you and your wife had a good time. Apparently there was a major backup at the gate, which could be the reason for the student section not filling up as fast.


October 31st, 2011 at 10:53 AM ^

that is a lot of observing.

OK, I have to ask this.  I swallowed my pride and asked who the hell Taco Pants was after trying (and failing) to figure it out from context for a year.  Now, I need to know who the hell Lloyd Brady is.  Is this a real person named Lloyd Brady?  Is it somebody who dresses up like Lloyd Carr or Tom Brady, or a combination?  Is he a complete fiction, like Taco Pants?  Who is this man?  What is Lloyd Brady?


October 31st, 2011 at 10:56 AM ^

He's a guy who looks like a combination of Tom Brady and Lloyd Christmas (the character played by Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber). Chances are, if you've watched a Michigan game in the last 3 years, you've seen him. It seems like he gets on camera at just about every home game. I don't know the name of the original thread, but people started noticing him at every game, realized he had an iconic face, and started a Photoshop thread. He's legendary now.


October 31st, 2011 at 11:04 AM ^

I don't know how it all started, but he's real. The only thing I'm certain of is that for every game the past few years he's had great front-row level seating. But I'm pretty sure it started last year with this photo after the UCONN game:


And ever since then he's been photoshopped into everything here







October 31st, 2011 at 4:16 PM ^

He always manages to get seats in the first row, so he is always on tv and on the scoreboard. He was on at least three times on Saturday. Google his name and about 100 pictures will come up of him at different games.


October 31st, 2011 at 10:56 AM ^

I think the game was hardly in hand when the wave was attempted and I was in the section that kept trying to start it.  We were just stopped on the goal line (was I the only one praying it wasn't Illinois 2 years ago?) and Purdue had picked up a few first downs and was going towards midfield if they score there its a 6 point game.  Once we scored again it was fine.

Other than that I'm glad it was such a good experience!  The jetpack was incredible for me.


October 31st, 2011 at 10:56 AM ^

I've been pretty hard on the students' coming late, but to be honest, the endlessly whiny old farts are infinitely more aggravating. Congrats on your evident self-control.


October 31st, 2011 at 2:44 PM ^

App State. Went to the Oregon game the next week, then to the Ohio game at the end of the year. The next season I went to Utah,  Illinois,  and Toledo game. Didn't go to any games in 2009-2010 (grad school in VA). It took me till the Western game to see the winningest program of all time actually win a game.

I also mentioned to my friend during the first drive of the Western game that Michigan was 0-6 when I was in attendance and that I was hoping to witness my first win. The guy behind me yelled "get the hell out jinx." I looked back, he seemed to be dead serious.


October 31st, 2011 at 11:05 AM ^

I'm glad you had a great time.  There's nothing like that first experience at the big house.  I was too young to remember anything about my first game.  All I remember from that day as a 5 year old was being in awe of the 100,000+ people sitting around me. 

I was there on Saturday as well and I agree with most of your points.  Jetpack guy was pretty sweet.  You don't really get a sense of how big those scoreboards are until you see them in person.  Although my dad still complained that the numbers for the actual score should be bigger. 

Gardner's interception was epic bad.  From where I was sitting, all I could see were Purdue players in that area.  I would have been shocked if it wasn't picked off.  That reminded me of Denard's third interception in the Notre Dame game where we got 50 yards on one play and then immediately threw up a prayer for the int. 

I'm in the camp that likes some piped music but in moderation.  I don't remember there being overkill of that yesterday. 

Hope you get to another game soon. 


October 31st, 2011 at 11:06 AM ^

The old geezers complaining about the throw back screen, one of the most sucessful plays we have run this year.  They're not just old and stubborn, they're regressing mentally.


October 31st, 2011 at 11:27 AM ^

It was my first game this year too.

I was really impressed with the stadium renovations. The new scoreboards go really well with the press boxes/suites (all the same height, symetrical). The stadium always looked kinda "meh" from the outside. Now it looks very modern and classic at the same time and you can see the huge M on the back of the scoreboards from a mile away. I think it definitely helps with the crowd noise too.

Getting into our seats was pretty horrendous, there were huge lines on our end of the stadium at each section entrance (we were sec 9). They really need to address this, IMO. The people checking to make sure you were in the right section seemed pretty oblivious to the size of the line and were just kinda taking it real easy.

I though wave attempt number one was premature, but when they actually got it going, I think it was appropriate timing IIRC. I don't think I've seen a slow wave as slow as that one before. It was pretty funny seeing the slo-mo expressions on each individual person as it came by.



October 31st, 2011 at 12:39 PM ^ said it best...

The tradition began in 1959 when public address announcer Steve Filipiak reported the scores to the Big House crowd. Filipiak announced the score every Saturday until his final season in 1971, but the tradition lived on.

Slippery Rock became so popular with Big House fans that they were invited to play at Michigan Stadium in 1979 against in-state rival Shippensburg. A crowd of 61,143 watched Slippery Rock fall, but it was a Division II attendance record. Slippery Rock played a second game at the Big House in 1981, drawing 36,719 fans in a 14-13 loss to Wayne State.


The tradition dropped off in recent years but was revived during the first year of Dave Brandon's tenure as athletic director, much to the delight of fans that remember the old days of Rock scores.


October 31st, 2011 at 11:37 AM ^

My biggest issue with the musicwas that they constantly played it at high volume during the 1/2 hour before the game and it made it difficult to hold a conversation.  I was there with family who I only see once a year and we could barely speak.  

Was pretty cool that we were sitting next to Rick Leach's parents though and he came over to talk to them at half time.

El Jeffe

October 31st, 2011 at 11:46 AM ^

Mods: bump to diaries? This is diary-worthy, I think. I mean, it's no THE KNOWLEDGE, but still.

As to the substance, very interesting reactions. I've been going to games since the (*cough*) mid-70s, so I have no sense of what my initial reactions were. Actually, with all the changes it feels more and more like the first time (like the very first time) each time.

I will honestly never understand the psychology of people who pay huge amounts of money to go sit in the cold and bitch about the choices of their coaches and the efforts of 18-23 year olds who are working nearly 24-7 (shut up, Rosenberg) to try and bring glory to UM.

Here is the only area in which I am willing to at least listen to a discussion of how fans who went to Michigan might be different from fans who didn't. I have no empirical evidence to back this up whatsoever, but it just strikes me that when your formative experiences of rooting for M came from cheering for the guys who very probably were in some of your classes, that's just a qualitatively different experience than rooting for guys who wear a jersey that you support because you've chosen to support it.

I'm definitely NOT making a deterministic argument here. I'm sure there are some non-alum fans who are way more positive about the team than some alums. And I don't mind the back-and-forth on MGoBlog of debating whether this call or that throw was good. That's just Sunday morning quarterbacking.

But when you're AT THE STADIUM and all you bring to the proceedings are endless bitches about Lloyd or RichRod or Brady or any of the players? Then IMO you need to be strapped to jet pack man and sent out of the stadium with haste. I just wonder whether those types are more likely not to be alums, because they have more of a sense that they are owed something because perhaps they don't have the same emotional affinity for the school and the players.


October 31st, 2011 at 12:37 PM ^

I sat behind a "North and South" guy for about 10 years growing up. He would roll up his program and use it as a megaphone, as if the players could hear him from 73 rows up. When we were on defense, he'd yell, "Rush the passer, Bo," again, as if Bo could hear him. I also sat behind a couple guys who smoked stogies non-stop. I left many a game with itchy eyes from the cigar smoke.


October 31st, 2011 at 12:52 PM ^

We had a ton of "North and South" guys and "Down in Fronters" for many seasons in section 24.  It wasn't until I got the idea of taunting them until they began to swear at me, did the issue take care of itself.  The PSD also helped since many of these "fans" were too cheap to spend $500 per seat to read "War and Peace" in the stands.  My secret is to get the old guys (and gals) to start swearing at me for standing up and cheering, and then grab the usher and have them escorted out for swearing in front of my 6 y.o. son.  Now, Section 24 is filled with 30 and 40 somethings that are there for one reason only... Cheering for MEEEEEEchigan.


October 31st, 2011 at 1:07 PM ^

right behind the FG posts in the endzone.  I was watching the play develop and saw DG looking down towards the post.  I yelled "Don't throw it" three times before he let it go.  Guess he didn't hear me......

Also, this was my first time to a game this year.  The new scoreboards are awsome.  I liked the piped in MMB.  The one thing that was kind of freaky was when the sky got dark late in the game.  My seats were low enough so I could see the new scoreboards reflecting off the suite glass.  I kept thinking it was lightning out when the scoreboard would flash the make noise video.  It was like a stobe light going off in the big house.  Rocket man was un-expected (I kept looking for an airplane to fly over) and soooo cool.


October 31st, 2011 at 2:29 PM ^

The Big House camera team had a good day on Saturday.  They found all the good Halloween costumes in the crowd.  I especially loved the student dressed as Tressel wearing a "Will coach for food" sign.

old hippy

October 31st, 2011 at 4:24 PM ^

I returned for homecoming after 40 years in exile (SEC country).  My impressions: first, the stadium renovations are fantastic!  The place looks brand new, is clean, and has plenty of concessions and restrooms.  Second, the cheers aren't as good as they used to be.  Whatever happened to the cheers that students made up their own (usually profane) words to?  What's up with the Looney Tunes or Flintstones or whatever that cheer was where the cheerleeders put their megaphones on their heads?  That was lame!  And what's up with the students?  I watched the student sections through my binoculars.  Everyone was so well-behaved!  No young ladies were passed up to the top row.  I didn't see anyone passing out.  And only one small blue beach ball was bouncing around the stands.  Come on people--this is MICHIGAN!  Where else can you pay $18,000 a year for the privilege of looking stupid in front of 112,000 other people?  Has the entire student body gone "tech-nerd" or did I just pick a bad day to attend a game?